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Past | Future

As some of you know, the grad school I really, really, really want to go to is UT Austin, which coincidentally also happens to be the ONLY school that offers a certificate specifically in book and paper conservation and allows you to get a MLS at the same time. (The other two schools I've heard anything good about just offer a degree in conservation and are more focused on art restoration than book and paper specifically; in fact, one of them doesn't actually offer a specialization in book and paper at all, since their book conservator is now in charge of the entire program and doesn't have time to teach. From what I heard, she feels that the Austin program covers that area very well, and that people interested in book/paper conservation should probably go there.).

You'd think, with all of this, that the conservation program at Austin would be pretty safe. Guess again! They haven't accepted new students this year, and the future of the entire program is in jeopardy. This email was sent out today by someone at the Library of Congress to one of the main mailing lists for librarians/conservators:

As many of you know, the Conservation Certificate of Advanced Study program of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin is in jeopardy.  Since 1992, the program has been successful in obtaining external funding to support a range of program activities, including key full-time and adjunct faculty positions, conservation lab supplies and equipment, student internships, doctoral fellowships, visiting lecturers, and conferences.  Unfortunately, the program's support from NEH, which has long funded the two conservation instructor positions (the backbone of the conservation program's curriculum), will end August 31, 2010.  Without these positions, the Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record will not be able to offer the Conservation Certificate program.

No conservator students were accepted for this upcoming academic year so that an in-depth program review could take place.  That review is in its final stages and has mapped a transformative future for the program.  Grant, foundation, and private funding are beckoning but will require the University of Texas at Austin to demonstrate evidence of institutional support.   The School of Information has constructed wonderful new conservation labs in its new facility (http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/about/move.php), but they won't have a single conservator student to put in them if they don't have funding in place by October 2009 for the coming years.  Funding for the two instructor positions must be stabilized immediately.

Your assistance is requested in the form of letters to Vice President and Provost Stephen W. Leslie that request University support of these two conservation instruction positions and that document the program's importance to the field.  University funding for even one of these positions will enhance the Kilgarlin Center's ability to attract external foundation or private funding for the other position.  Many of you are alums, many others employ Kilgarlin Center grads, and nearly all of you are familiar with the Center's singular role as a library and archives conservation education program.  Thank you for your support.

Hard copy letters can be mailed to:

Steven W. Leslie
Executive Vice President and Provost
University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station, G1000
Austin, Texas 78712

Please email copies of these letters to Dean Dillon and Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa:

Andrew P., Dillon
Dean, School of Information

Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa
Director, Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record

I just thought I'd throw this up here in case anyone was interested in joining the horde of conservators and librarians writing letters/emails on behalf of the program. As I said, it really is a very good program, and one of the only ones of its kind in the entire country. It would be a shame to have it end so ingloriously.


Jul. 24th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
I will write e-mails this weekend. Conservation is all too often under-appreciated, and programs like this seem priceless.